I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.
One thing that is true about most tabletop sweeteners – whether they come with calories or not – they have a highly desirable taste. Some people come into this world programmed to prefer sweet tastes over sour or bitter and those people now have more ways than ever before to satisfy that preference. Understanding how and why many people like sweets so much is important to helping us enjoy them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
It all begins with some very specific cells found inside the taste buds on our tongues. When those cells come into contact with certain substances in the food we eat, a chemical reaction occurs. As a result of this chemical reaction, a signal is sent to our brains that we perceive as a sweet taste. If something interferes with that chemical reaction, the “sweet signal” is not sent to the brain and a ripe, juicy peach will not taste so sweet.
What many people don’t realize is that a variety of different substances can trigger the chemical reaction that leads to our ability to detect sweetness. They are found in caloric sweeteners such as sugar, honey and high fructose corn syrup and in no- and low-calorie sweeteners, such as sucralose (the sweetening ingredient in SPLENDA® Sweetener Products), or in aspartame and stevia. There are also sweet-tasting compounds in fruits, vegetables, milk and grains, but as far as our brains are concerned, it does not matter what the source is. Regardless of what we have eaten, if a substance produces the right chemical reaction in the taste buds and sends the right signal to the brain, it will be perceived as sweet and enjoyed!
This is just one way our brains are involved in our appreciation of sweet tasting foods and drinks.
In addition to our inborn preference for sweet tastes, we sometimes learn to love them when they are part of special occasions. Every birthday party celebrated with presents, hats and horns culminating in making a wish while blowing out candles on a decorated cake, reinforces the connection between sweet taste and fun! While sweet tastes can be fun and we can seek out sweets sometimes more than other tastes, that doesn’t mean we’re addicted. However, science has pretty much proven that we all have a preference for sweet taste, starting from when we are born!
Unfortunately, in a world where we have constant access to sweet tasting prepared foods and drinks, the quality of our diets and health may suffer if we continually choose them over other foods we need to eat. But there is a way to keep the sweet taste we love, with fewer calories, and have a healthier and satisfying diet. The strategy is to use a low calorie sweetener, such as SPLENDA® Sweeteners, to replace the sugar in some of your favorite desserts so you can enjoy them with fewer calories. Low calorie sweeteners can also be used to sweeten many healthy foods, like oatmeal, bran cereal and plain yogurt to name a few, so we’ll eat them regularly. Adding a packet of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener instead of two teaspoons of sugar saves you 28 calories every time.
The simple truth is, our minds are made up – many people naturally like sweet taste. And by using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, many people don’t have to give up the sweet taste, just some of the calories from added sugar!
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.
- Yeomans MR. Taste, palatability and control of appetite. Proc Nutr Soc. 1998;57:609-615 http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FPNS%2FPNS57_04%2FS0029665198000925a.pdf&code=03dfd91c69e0c7416798fcc5c0bfb3b2
- Drewnowski A. Taste preference and food intake. Annu Rev Nutr. 1997;17:237-253 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9240927